05/12/2005 - With more and more people taking university degrees from foreign providers, there is a growing need for safeguards against low-quality services. New Guidelines on Quality Provision in Cross-border Higher Education jointly developed by UNESCO and OECD aim to meet this need.
Cross-border higher education has grown considerably in the last two decades, thanks to increased mobility of students, academic staff and institutions and new delivery modes such as campuses abroad and Internet-based courses. These developments offer new opportunities for individuals and the societies they live in, but they also raise issues about quality, reliability and recognition.
In response, the UNESCO/OECD guidelines encourage governments and other stakeholders - including higher education institutions, student bodies, and organisations responsible for quality assurance, accreditation, and academic and professional recognition -- to take action based on three main principles:
The guidelines are designed to help students get easy access to reliable information on higher education offered outside their home country or by foreign providers in their home country. They call on governments and other stakeholders to make qualifications more transparent and to provide greater clarity on procedures for their recognition internationally.
This is the first time that the UNESCO and OECD have collaborated in developing guidelines in this way. Although they are not binding, their endorsement by two international organisations grouping more than 190 countries gives them significant force.
Specific recommendations include:
For further information, journalists are invited to contact: at UNESCO, Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic (tel: + 33 1 45 68 08 32); at OECD, Stephan Vincent-Lancrin ( tel:+ 33 1 45 24 92 29).
Figures on student mobility